No child left inside

Published by Lori Pickert on October 21, 2008 at 02:47 AM


Schools suck the fun out of everything they teach. Do we want schools now to suck the fun out of outdoor adventure?

This legislation, in my mind, is a perfect example of the kind of thinking that has caused many of the problems that the Coalition is concerned about, not the kind of thinking that can solve them. Every time we see a national problem, and especially if that problem has anything to do with children, a hue and cry goes out to solve that problem through the school system. The attitude seems to be that every problem can be solved by piliing yet another set of required courses and examinations onto the backs of schoolchildren. Don’t you see, you members of the Coalition, that the school system and our reliance on it to babysit our children and to force onto them an ever growing list of “educational” demands is the problem? And don’t you see that the more we attempt to regulate school activities through government mandates, the more restrictive and antithetical to the spirit of discovery school becomes?

Peter Gray, Psychology Today “Freedom to Learn” Blog

One suggestion Mr. Gray makes for increasing children’s time in the outdoors? Less homework.


Comment by Emma on October 21, 2008 at 04:33 AM

Interesting article. Homework is a big issue with us. Our kids don't have time to play, let alone play outside the way we did when we were kids.

Comment by Jody on October 21, 2008 at 05:03 AM

I completely agree! Kids are in school ALL day long. Why pile on more of it for when they go home?!?!? Let them play and be kids...that time is fleeting!
When I was teaching in the public school system, I was shocked at how attached teachers are to homework. Most completely disagreed with the lack of homework that I gave. In our arguments (ahem, discussions) they had 3 main reasons for excessive homework. 1. With all the mandates that teachers have to address, how can they can't possibly cover it all during the school day. 2. Homework gets the parents involved. 3. How will there be enough grades in my gradebook?!?!?
All of those reasons are punishing the child for for the mistakes of the adults that surround them. Thanks for sharing. I love your blog!

Comment by allie on October 21, 2008 at 08:15 AM

This is really interesting. Is there anything educational that can escape the realm of legislation?? Yikes.

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 21, 2008 at 01:42 PM

Emma, I hear this all the time from my friends — it’s very frustrating!

Jody, we had a no-homework policy at my school (I was owner and director), and we had many parents who were perplexed and worried about it rather than overjoyed. They wondered how their kids could keep up with the public-school kids if they didn’t have homework — both for the “extra” work and, I think, the discipline. We tried to explain that the fact that we didn’t have to deal with transitions and discipline problems meant we had *time* for the kids to do their work at school — and they were building self-discipline through their independent studies. Time after school should be for family and friends, exploring and hobbies, relaxing and playing — IMHO.

I love your statement that we’re punishing kids for adult mistakes — so true! And thank you very much re: my blog!

Allie, I had to laugh at the author’s comment about P.E. — I live in one of the few states (maybe the only one?) that still mandates P.E. through high school (Illinois), and I didn’t learn a thing about physical fitness or sports except that everyone hated me and it takes two weeks for a bruise to heal completely. ;^)

Comment by JoVE on October 21, 2008 at 02:40 PM

Duh. That's kind of obvious. In Ontario the government actually decided to make a move on reducing homework for primary school kids in order to give more family time. What a radical idea.

And that problem you identify in the quote I tend to describe as the colonization of children's lives by school.

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 21, 2008 at 05:28 PM

radical indeed.

Comment by Sharon on October 21, 2008 at 11:19 PM

I'm in Queensland Australia and am horrified that they just recently announced that they would be starting to teach spelling in kindergarten (age 3) and that this is necessary in an increasingly competitive world. This will probably mean homework for the 3 year old. where will it end?

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 22, 2008 at 12:26 AM

sharon, that's depressing. i remember there was an educational initiative in australia some years ago that we were really excited about -- of course, i'm blanking on the name. they were going to test drive it in several schools. it was aligned with a reggio-inspired, project-based approach. i still have a huge handbook about it somewhere.

ridiculous, isn't it, to blame "an increasingly competitive world"? as though learning how to spell at 3 will somehow make you more prepared to deal with that at 23.

Comment by greenchickadee on October 22, 2008 at 05:54 AM

Oh girl, you are SO preachin' to the choir here! Ever read much about Ayn Rand's objectivism? I'm really sick of the government getting involved in trying to legislate away true freedom to explore and feel and create! It has to FLOW, and not FORCE!

The comments from Sharon got my panties in a wad, and made me realize that we home schoolers (of competent, bright, interesting, brilliant, creative . . . kids) must stick together because soon enough, legislation will come knocking at our door and be telling us exactly how and what we can do with our kids. And I refuse to be told. Especially when it comes to my kids.

Do you ever wonder why we have access to so much data that makes so much sense, when "they" seem to be using such antiquated ideas in the educational systems across the nation?

Oh, now I'm ranting. Breathe, breathe . . .

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 22, 2008 at 03:00 PM

hey you. ;^) i need my choir! i like the hallelujah chorus.

i thought this was a very interesting article and the author made some good points. the question is — how did something like this get so far into the legislative process?

Comment by Eren on October 23, 2008 at 12:42 AM

So, so interesting. I have been in both Ian and Zane's classes today and am getting such a good picture of just HOW much is being put on our public school system. This is such a great article.

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 23, 2008 at 01:49 AM

hi eren! i’ll be interested to hear more about your visit to ian and zane’s class.

i’m glad you enjoyed the article! i am really liking the freedom to learn blog.

Comment by sharon on October 24, 2008 at 12:09 AM

Yes Lori, that would be the prep program for children 5 years old between June of each year,that you would have read about. We have a really wonderful prep teacher for our five year old but she still struggles with the curriculum as they keep adding things for the teachers to teach, they end up dilluting it to fit the curriculum in, tick the boxes, etc. She says that homework is optional but they really want you to do it, we make it fun and turn it into a game, but still, its a half hour of work, if she says she doesnt want to do it we dont. The spelling thing is bizzare, as I dont think that children will learn anything except that they are not good at spelling. I am very concerned about this as a mum of a one year old, I wouldnt like to see this happening to learning for my baby at 3.

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 24, 2008 at 03:31 AM

i'm a fan of letting children "babble" when they begin to write - sounding things out, and spelling doesn't matter.

i treasure my first looong note from my older son! and he was a prolific writer .. i know he wouldn't have been if an issue had been made about spelling things correctly.

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